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The Platoon "Efficiency and Efficacy" Advantage

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#1 jokin

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Posted 01 February 2014 - 11:43 PM

MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince says that "platooning and position-sharing is here to stay" http://mlb.mlb.com/n...0&vkey=news_mlb :

[QUOTE]Platooning is increasingly in vogue in this era of pitching prominence and diminished offensive returns....

Last season, according to Elias Sports Bureau, players batted in favorable matchups (right-handed batters against left-handed pitchers, and players vice versa) 56 percent of the time, the highest such percentage since 1995 (57) and an indication, perhaps, of the measures teams are taking to eke more efficiency and efficacy out of their offenses at a time when runs per game and league-wide batting averages have dipped to their lowest levels in decades.
[/QUOTE]

Not so surprisingly, the A's were right near the top, with 70.5% of their 2013 PAs under conditions that favored the hitter. More surprisingly, were the Indians, who edged out the A's at 70.6%, and the Twins, who were 5th at 60.4%. I think the Twins number was artificially inflated with all the switch hitters employed, as there wasn't any obvious platooning going on. By contrast, the A's are planning on platooning at 4 positions, and the White Sox, who finished at the bottom of the AL in favorable batting conditions, is now planning on full-time platooning at 3 positions in 2014.

Strategic "position sharing" is a concept whose time has apparently arrived:

[QUOTE]Pure production, as you might have noticed from a winter in which three position players (Shin-Soo Choo, Jacoby Ellsbury and Robinson Cano) signed contracts of $130 million or more, can be awfully expensive. That's why such small-market clubs as the A's and Rays have long made a habit of maximizing the potential of their rosters through the use of timeshares.


But this winter we're seeing several of the big spenders -- ...-- toy with, if not outright embrace, the idea as well.


And it's why Danny Valencia might emerge as importance insurance for a Royals team with so much riding on Mike Moustakas, who has endured Ryan Howard-like struggles against southpaws thus far in his career. It's why the White Sox might squeeze one more effective season out of Paul Konerko, who will platoon with Adam Dunn at DH.
[/QUOTE]

Indians manager, Terry Francona, the 2013 champion of using the platoon advantage, summed up the impediments to successful implementation:


[QUOTE]"I think every manager would like to do it," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "You just can't always do it. You can't ever forget that they're people. So that's part of the communication. It's getting guys to understand that we're a team, and it's not all about personal numbers."
[/QUOTE]

Regardless, the Twins could benefit by arming Gardy with consideration of every potential and available platoon option that can possibly upgrade this underpowered 4-cylinder offense to at least a (Not So) Straight 6 engine. (To answer the bullpen-overuse concerns from the loss of ML pitching option, use more pitchers with options remaining as your depth, and shuttle them back and forth from Rochester).

Edited by jokin, 01 February 2014 - 11:52 PM.


#2 The Wise One

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Posted 02 February 2014 - 05:18 AM

Developing players over the next couple of years: Arcia, Buxton, Dozier, Hicks, Pinto, Sano. Player you would not platoon: Mauer. That leave SS and DH to platoon, unless you think the players are not going to develop.

#3 mikecgrimes

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Posted 02 February 2014 - 07:38 AM

Developing players over the next couple of years: Arcia, Buxton, Dozier, Hicks, Pinto, Sano. Player you would not platoon: Mauer. That leave SS and DH to platoon, unless you think the players are not going to develop.


No, if this is the moneyball strategy that works you would then make a trade. Why have, for lack of a better comparison, .280 hitters everywhere when you can trade for a .290 hitter and be left with 2 .270 - .275 hitters at one position. The key to moneyball is that it is what drives your decisions. Your overall point is fine if your not playing moneyball.

#4 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 02 February 2014 - 07:43 AM

I'm surprised the twins were 5th here. I know we talk about Gardy's reluctance to platoon quite a bit around here.

#5 stringer bell

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Posted 02 February 2014 - 07:53 AM

I'm surprised the twins were 5th here. I know we talk about Gardy's reluctance to platoon quite a bit around here.

1) Switch-hitters would figure here. They can be regulars and always enjoy the platoon advantage. 2) From point 1, this is why I regard K Morales as very desirable for the Twins. I love the idea of Morales hitting between Mauer and the Hammer (later Sano). 3) The managers still have a tough time with platoons with 12-man pitching staffs. Teams can be constructed to maximize all of their roster and that would include a platoon or two. What is good is to have players with positional flexibility to figure into the mix. For example playing Escobar at third often against righthanders and sometimes at second vs. righties and use him at short vs. lefties. Further, if a regular (Mauer, Arcia, Willingham, Dozier) gets a day off, make sure it is when they don't have a platoon advantage and fill the spot with a guy who does have that edge.

#6 jay

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Posted 02 February 2014 - 10:42 AM

Developing players over the next couple of years: Arcia, Buxton, Dozier, Hicks, Pinto, Sano. Player you would not platoon: Mauer. That leave SS and DH to platoon, unless you think the players are not going to develop.


Hicks is probably a bad season away from being a platoon option.

Further, if a regular (Mauer, Arcia, Willingham, Dozier) gets a day off, make sure it is when they don't have a platoon advantage and fill the spot with a guy who does have that edge.


Bingo. Need a flexible bench that can do that.

#7 The Wise One

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 02:20 AM

Further, if a regular (Mauer, Arcia, Willingham, Dozier) gets a day off, make sure it is when they don't have a platoon advantage and fill the spot with a guy who does have that edge.


what do you think Gardy did last year as he rated number 5 "platooner" by the definition of occasionally batting someone to a split advantage. Although I would like to point out there was no split advantage resting Mauer.

Edited by The Wise One, 03 February 2014 - 02:23 AM.


#8 The Wise One

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 02:29 AM

No, if this is the moneyball strategy that works you would then make a trade. Why have, for lack of a better comparison, .280 hitters everywhere when you can trade for a .290 hitter and be left with 2 .270 - .275 hitters at one position. The key to moneyball is that it is what drives your decisions. Your overall point is fine if your not playing moneyball.


Not a moneyball decision. If you have developed above average players at the positions, thats what you have. There is no need to platoon unless the other player is very superior at one thing but limited. If you have a collection of steady .280 hitters with 25 HR potential what is the problem with that?

#9 stringer bell

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 06:06 AM

what do you think Gardy did last year as he rated number 5 "platooner" by the definition of occasionally batting someone to a split advantage. Although I would like to point out there was no split advantage resting Mauer.

Having switch hitters (Florimon, Doumit, Hicks, Escobar) automatically increases the numbers used in the article. Going deeper, using switch hitters with substantial platoon splits really doesn't improve production if they get substantial at-bats on their "weak" side. So, if Hicks got a day off (when he played every day) vs. a lefty or Florimon got a day off vs. a righty when he played against a lefty, it wouldn't be utilizing platoon advantages. Incidentally, Mauer hit very well against lefties last year, but his career platoon split is very stark. Career vs. righties: .932 OPS, career vs. lefties: .760 OPS

Edited by stringer bell, 03 February 2014 - 06:26 AM.


#10 Riverbrian

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 06:42 AM

I'm not as concerned about platooning...

I was much more concerned about players (who didn't earn it) playing every day.
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#11 gil4

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 07:44 AM

Not a moneyball decision. If you have developed above average players at the positions, thats what you have. There is no need to platoon unless the other player is very superior at one thing but limited. If you have a collection of steady .280 hitters with 25 HR potential what is the problem with that?


1. That's very difficult to do - it's a much more difficult target than developing a platoon that can produce at the same level.

2. That team would become too expensive to keep very quickly, so it's not a sustainable strategy unless you're the Yankees. Actually, even the Yankees have trouble doing this because of pressure to keep (and overpay) their players beyond their productive years.

#12 stringer bell

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 09:11 AM

It is funny how a year can be a total outlier. As I stated, Mauer has a noticeable platoon split lifetime, but last year actually hit better against left handers. Michael Cuddyer, a career .270 hitter hit .330 last year in no small part because he killed right handed pitching to the tune of .360 BA. Cuddy has had a career where he's crushed left handers, but struggled against right handers, yet there he is with an OPS well north of .900 against RH pitching. Totally unsustainable, but for a season Michael Cuddyer and Joe Mauer defied their platoon splits.

#13 mikecgrimes

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 10:43 AM

Not a moneyball decision. If you have developed above average players at the positions, thats what you have. There is no need to platoon unless the other player is very superior at one thing but limited. If you have a collection of steady .280 hitters with 25 HR potential what is the problem with that?


Of course if a player is to good to platoon you don't, but the option to trade into a platoon situation is the next step. Sometimes easier said then done, but we're looking at is a way of measuring WAP (wins over platoon) instead of WAR. Suddenly some very good high priced guys aren't as great. Hate to say it but this means if he would waive the no trade we should look to trade Mauer for baseball purposes.

#14 Oldgoat_MN

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 11:52 AM

Of course if a player is to good to platoon you don't, but the option to trade into a platoon situation is the next step. Sometimes easier said then done, but we're looking at is a way of measuring WAP (wins over platoon) instead of WAR. Suddenly some very good high priced guys aren't as great. Hate to say it but this means if he would waive the no trade we should look to trade Mauer for baseball purposes.


Um, to improve our offense?
Because there are so many better hitters out there?
Did many platoons OPS better than .880 last year?

Please help me understand how you reached this conclusion.

Thank you

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#15 The Wise One

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 12:03 PM

1. That's very difficult to do - it's a much more difficult target than developing a platoon that can produce at the same level.

2. That team would become too expensive to keep very quickly, so it's not a sustainable strategy unless you're the Yankees. Actually, even the Yankees have trouble doing this because of pressure to keep (and overpay) their players beyond their productive years.


1. The developing talent that is coming through the pipeline to the majors should be given every chance to develop into being full time every day players. Your intent in drafting/signing prospects should be to develop the players to their fullest.

2. When it gets to that point of being expensive then you can make trades for prospects that you think will fit the bill for the first response, You can also be very pleased with your scouting department.

#16 mikecgrimes

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 12:14 PM

Um, to improve our offense?
Because there are so many better hitters out there?
Did many platoons OPS better than .880 last year?

Please help me understand how you reached this conclusion.

Thank you


Mauer is worth nowhere near his contract at this point. If you could unload him use his money throughout the roster you would do it. Of course Mauer is greater then a platoon but if a platoon at first of Sano and anyone is an option you consider it. We won't be able to trade Mauer anyways but this is what teams like Oakland try to do and it works.

#17 The Wise One

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 12:17 PM

It is funny how a year can be a total outlier. As I stated, Mauer has a noticeable platoon split lifetime, but last year actually hit better against left handers. Michael Cuddyer, a career .270 hitter hit .330 last year in no small part because he killed right handed pitching to the tune of .360 BA. Cuddy has had a career where he's crushed left handers, but struggled against right handers, yet there he is with an OPS well north of .900 against RH pitching. Totally unsustainable, but for a season Michael Cuddyer and Joe Mauer defied their platoon splits.


Career .297/.330 split. He sure does hit poorly against left handed pitching. .790 OPS, he shouldn't be anywhere near the field of play with that poor of number. You are correct that there is a difference lifetime in his splits. His days off probably should be against left handed pitching on the road.
Cuddyer is listed as a career .272 hitter against righties and .287 against lefties.

Edited by The Wise One, 03 February 2014 - 12:22 PM.


#18 The Wise One

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 12:21 PM

Having switch hitters (Florimon, Doumit, Hicks, Escobar) automatically increases the numbers used in the article. Going deeper, using switch hitters with substantial platoon splits really doesn't improve production if they get substantial at-bats on their "weak" side. So, if Hicks got a day off (when he played every day) vs. a lefty or Florimon got a day off vs. a righty when he played against a lefty, it wouldn't be utilizing platoon advantages. Incidentally, Mauer hit very well against lefties last year, but his career platoon split is very stark. Career vs. righties: .932 OPS, career vs. lefties: .760 OPS


Your analysis of the other managers on the top of the list revealed a different pattern than Gardenhire's

#19 notoriousgod71

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 01:23 PM

I'm surprised the twins were 5th here. I know we talk about Gardy's reluctance to platoon quite a bit around here.


What's hilarious is that Gardy openly shuns platoon's but does everything in his power to make sure his relief pitchers always match up with the opposing batter. Why not go through five relievers every single game?

#20 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 01:31 PM

What's hilarious is that Gardy openly shuns platoon's but does everything in his power to make sure his relief pitchers always match up with the opposing batter. Why not go through five relievers every single game?


If there's managin' to be done, Gardy is ON IT.

#21 alskntwnsfn

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 05:40 PM

Nate Freiman pops into my mind, speaking of this topic. He has no business being on a typical MLB roster. Coming into 2013, his age 26! season, he had never played above AA. The dude is 6'8" and as such is limited to 1B or DH. But he hits LH pitching pretty well. He OPS'd over .800 against lefties last year and got some clutch hits for the A's.

You can afford to do things like this, but only if you have a good bullpen, a manager who will platoon or play splits, and you have to have a few other players who are versatile enough to play multiple positions.

This whole conversation was kind of a mute point because for the most part we couldn't hit period last year, regardless of how we played matchups.

#22 stringer bell

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 06:19 PM

This whole conversation was kind of a mute point because for the most part we couldn't hit period last year, regardless of how we played matchups.

Moot point. Sorry, grammar police.

#23 ashburyjohn

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 09:18 PM

Moot point. Sorry, grammar police.


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Edited by ashburyjohn, 04 February 2014 - 09:20 PM.


#24 The Wise One

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 10:32 PM

This whole conversation was kind of a mute point because for the most part we couldn't hit period last year, regardless of how we played matchups.


Statistically a guy that has an OPS of .600 is better than a guy with an OPS of .580. that in theory could get you 1 win over a season of platooning three positions.

Edited by The Wise One, 04 February 2014 - 10:37 PM.


#25 Jdosen

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 01:09 AM

Mauer is worth nowhere near his contract at this point.

Per FanGraphs, a site that I and many others consider to be an authority on the topic, Mauer has provided value very much in line with his contract the past 2 years when placing a dollar value on Wins Above Replacement. In 2012, he posted +4.7 WAR, which was worth $21 million. In 2013, he posted +5.2 WAR, which was worth $26 million. That will probably take a hit going forward considering he is on the wrong side of the aging curve the loss of defensive value he will provide after the move to first base, but anyone implying that Mauer's salary is hampering the team in any way is just wrong.
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#26 mikecgrimes

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 06:49 AM

Per FanGraphs, a site that I and many others consider to be an authority on the topic, Mauer has provided value very much in line with his contract the past 2 years when placing a dollar value on Wins Above Replacement. In 2012, he posted +4.7 WAR, which was worth $21 million. In 2013, he posted +5.2 WAR, which was worth $26 million. That will probably take a hit going forward considering he is on the wrong side of the aging curve the loss of defensive value he will provide after the move to first base, but anyone implying that Mauer's salary is hampering the team in any way is just wrong.


Agreed Mauer has if anything been underrated the last two years, of course we're measuring him in War rather then wins over platoon, at Catcher that makes sense, at first the difference between a replacement production and platoon could be huge. Replacement level first base stats would be very good stats at catcher, add to that with a platoon and your getting to the point of borderline all-star at catcher. I guess the bottom line you could always platoon 1st base for very little money and get very good offensive production.

#27 thetank

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 07:44 AM

One could see a strategy of starting a lefty/righty for an inning or two and then switching to a righty/lefty if you have the depth and days off the schedule in the upcoming days to counter around a heavy platooned lineup. You do use a pitcher for that game.

#28 Boom Boom

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 09:46 AM

The Twins already have a prime opportunity for platooning with Kubel and... anybody else. We'll see how much use Gardy makes of it, but I'm worried that Kubel will get far too many ABs against lefties again.

#29 mikecgrimes

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 09:58 AM

One could see a strategy of starting a lefty/righty for an inning or two and then switching to a righty/lefty if you have the depth and days off the schedule in the upcoming days to counter around a heavy platooned lineup. You do use a pitcher for that game.


Tough to do with a 25 man roster, but in a pennate chase come September 1st get every pitcher available up, and if you get to extra innings of a game that didn't go as planned worst case you have to toss a top double A starter in. Of course your minor league teams would be a joke at that point but I've never understood why the Twins should care about the minor league playoffs.

#30 Alex

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 11:40 AM

Agreed Mauer has if anything been underrated the last two years, of course we're measuring him in War rather then wins over platoon, at Catcher that makes sense, at first the difference between a replacement production and platoon could be huge. Replacement level first base stats would be very good stats at catcher, add to that with a platoon and your getting to the point of borderline all-star at catcher. I guess the bottom line you could always platoon 1st base for very little money and get very good offensive production.


Be specific please. Which two players currently available are going to hit better than Mauer or even close? None will hit better against RHP. There may be some that will hit better against LHP, but we actually have options on the team that can do that. Trading him will result in a net loss. We actually have options on the roster that would be available to play 1B and hit from the other side.

Trading Mauer continues to make zero sense.

1. There are no players available that will make up for the loss of production in FA, nor multiple players.

2. The Twins still could still sign players if needed/want -- his salary isn't crippling.

3. The Twins aren't going to have need to sign in-house players for some time so they don't need to clear salary immediately.